Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

From the 2 March 2015 Guttmacher Institute press release

Increasing Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Could Substantially Reduce These Costs

U.S. government expenditures on births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21 billion in 2010, according to “Public Costs from Unintended Pregnancies and the Role of Public Insurance Programs in Paying for Pregnancy-Related Care: National and State Estimates for 2010,” by Adam Sonfield and Kathryn Kost. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million in 2010. Texas spent the most ($2.9 billion), followed by California ($1.8 billion), New York ($1.5 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion); those four states are also the nation’s most populous.

Unintended pregnancies U.S. map of public costs

Previous research has demonstrated that investing in publicly funded family planning services enables women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and space wanted ones, which is good not only for women and families, but also for society as a whole. In the absence of the current U.S. publicly funded family planning effort, the public costs of unintended pregnancies in 2010 would have been 75% higher.

Sonfield and Kost report that the total gross savings from averting all unintended pregnancies in 2010 would have been $15.5 billion. This is less than the total public cost of all unintended pregnancies, because even if all women had been able to time their pregnancies as they wanted, some still would have had planned births that were publicly funded. These potential savings do not account for the cost of providing family planning services and other interventions that might be required to prevent the unintended pregnancies.

“Reducing public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies requires substantial new public investments in family planning services,” says Sonfield. “That would mean strengthening existing programs, such as the Title X family planning program, as well as working to ensure that the Affordable Care Act achieves its full potential to bolster Medicaid and other safety-net programs. We know we can prevent unintended pregnancies and the related costs. There are public programs in place that do it already, but as these data show, there is significantly more progress to be made.”

The new research also highlights the central role played by Medicaid and other public insurance programs in providing critical pregnancy-related care—including prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care and infant care—that help keep women and babies healthy. Fifty-one percent of the four million births in the United States in 2010 were publicly funded, including 68% of unplanned births and 38% of planned births.

“These findings demonstrate the continuing importance of Medicaid and other public health insurance programs in preserving maternal and child health, and in supporting pregnancy-related care,” says Adam Sonfield, coauthor of the new report.

For more information:

Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2010 and Trends Since 2002

Fact Sheet: Unintended Pregnancy in the United States (national)

State Facts on Unintended Pregnancy

Fact Sheet: Publicly Funded Family Planning Services in the United States (national)

State Facts on Publicly Funded Family Planning Services

State Data Center

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Sex, contraception, or abortion? Class gaps in unintended childbearing | Brookings Institution

Sex, contraception, or abortion? Class gaps in unintended childbearing | Brookings Institution.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 5.32.41 AM

From the report

A poor woman is about five times as likely as an affluent woman to have an unintended birth, which further deepens the divides in income, family stability, and child outcomes. But what is behind the gap? That is the question we address in our new paper, Sex, Contraception, or Abortion? Explaining Class Gaps in Unintended Childbearing, and in this data interactive.”

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] A Year of Magical Thinking Leads to… Unintended Pregnancy

On a personal note. Back in 1972 the religion classes for juniors and seniors at my high school were composed of electives. I took the marriage class. One week was spent on contraceptives. The material on the different types was fact based.  Since it was a Catholic school abstinence was emphasized! Still, I was a bit taken aback that we were given all the facts in order to make our own decisions.  Didn’t tell my parents about this! But the week’s focus on contraception did reinforce what we were taught at home – responsibilities for our actions.
On a somewhat related note – my heart goes out to all who are sexually abused and feel that a sexual relationship (and/or a relationship that is disproportionally  based on the needs of others) is the only way out of a bad (often home) environment.

From the 28 November Guttmacher Institute press release

Qualitative Study Explores Women’s Perceptions of Pregnancy Risk

In-depth interviews with 49 women obtaining abortions in the United States found that most of the study participants perceived themselves to be at low risk of becoming pregnant at the time that it happened. According to “Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions,” by Lori Frohwirth of the Guttmacher Institute et al., the most common reasons women gave for thinking they were at low risk of pregnancy included a perception of invulnerability, a belief that they were infertile, self-described inattention to the possibility of pregnancy and a belief that they were protected by their (often incorrect) use of a contraceptive method. Most participants gave more than one response.

The most common reason women gave for their perceived low risk of pregnancy was perceived invulnerability to pregnancy. Study participants understood that pregnancy could happen, but for reasons they couldn’t explain, thought they were immune or safe from pregnancy at the time they engaged in unprotected sex. One reported that she “always had good luck,” while another said, “…It’s like you believe something so much, like ‘I just really don’t want children,’ [and] for some reason, I thought that would prevent me from getting pregnant.” This type of magical thinking—that pregnancy somehow would not happen despite acknowledged exposure—suggests a disconnect between the actual risk of pregnancy incurred by an average couple who does not use contraceptives (85% risk of pregnancy over the course of a year) and a woman’s efforts to protect herself from unintended pregnancy.

Equal proportions (one-third) of respondents thought they or their partners were sterile, said the possibility of pregnancy “never crossed my mind” and reported that (often incorrect) contraceptive use was the reason they thought they were at low risk. Perceptions of infertility were not based on medical advice, but rather on past experiences (e.g., the respondent had unprotected sex and didn’t get pregnant) or family history. Among those who thought they were protected by their contraceptive method, most women reported inconsistent or incorrect method use. For example, one woman felt a few missed pills did not put her at risk: “I just thought…they were like magic. If I missed it one day, it wouldn’t really matter.”

The authors suggest that further research is needed to quantify the proportion of women at risk of pregnancy who believe they are not at risk, and reasons why they hold that belief, in order to better address misconceptions around pregnancy risk with the goal of preventing unintended pregnancy. Additionally, they suggest that health care providers should seek to better understand patients’ beliefs regarding their ability to get pregnant and the efficacy of contraception so as to address these topics, and that public health campaigns should dispel myths, address magical thinking, and call attention to the general problem of low health literacy.

Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions” is currently available online and will appear in a forthcoming issue of Social Science & Medicine.

 

November 22, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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